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Perceiving Conflict

It sometimes happens that we perceive an interpersonal conflict is occurring when that isn’t really the case. This might be when we pick up an attitude, gesture, statement, body or facial language, or another cue that we interpret as offensive and hurtful. We might think the other person is angry at us and may be reacting to something we said or did. In some cases, we might also feel guilt because we believe we did say or do something that was off-putting. This, of course, works both ways – we perceive conflict when it may or may not exist – or the other person perceives conflict when it may or may not exist.

At times like these, when we or the other person perceive interpersonal tension, we have the opportunity to check it out. Yet, many of us shy away from doing so. We might be afraid we will initiate an argument, or we will create a fuss, or we will find our assumptions and perceptions are right and end up in an interaction we don’t feel prepared for (or we are conflict avoidant).

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog invites you to consider a situation in which you are perceiving the other person is perturbed at you.

  • What is specifically happening that gives you the impression the other person is perturbed at you?
  • What do you assume, but do not know for sure, about the possible reason the other person is perturbed with you?
  • If you are not correct about your assumptions in this regard (above question), what else may be going on for the other person?
  • What might be going on for you that you are perceiving dissension, if it’s not real?
  • If you were to ask the other person about what you are perceiving, how might you frame your question?
  • What answer do you want to be most prepared for?
  • If you are correct about your assumptions, what is important to know or do about that?
  • What would be the biggest pleasant surprise that the other person might say?
  • What do you know or are you learning about the best way forward when you perceive conflict, but do not know it exists for sure?
  • How are these questions changing your perceptions, if at all?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

#conflictcoaching
#conflictmanagementcoaching
#conflict
#conflictmanagement
#conflictresolution
#questions

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“Being” in Conflict

Recently, I was interviewed by Kathy Caprino – Senior Contributor to Forbes blog – on conflict management and leaders. In response to one of the questions about what compelled me to create a conflict management coaching model, I explained that in my work as a workplace mediator it became evident that many leaders do not know how to “be” in conflict. That is, engaging effectively is not a competency that many leaders bring to their work. Being able to listen well (to hear and understand before talking), to regulate emotions, to engage others in challenging conversations with calm, and other such characteristics are just some of the traits associated with this competency.

Conflict competent leaders also work to build conflict competent organizations. And by doing so, contribute to normalizing conflict. This means, among other things, accepting the inevitability of conflict and creating systems and processes to facilitate difficult conversations. It means addressing differences that are fractious in nature (and commonly occur in most workplaces) and providing opportunities for staff to share their ideas and views without recrimination.

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog asks you to consider the notion of “being” in conflict for you.

  • What sorts of conflicts do you want to engage in with increased confidence and competence?
  • What are the commonalities of the types of conflicts in which you don’t see yourself as conflict competent yet?
  • What does being conflict competent mean to you in terms of how you would like to “be” in those situations (that you refer to in response to the above questions)?
  • What do you suppose gets in your way of being conflict competent?
  • When you have observed others who seem to engage effectively in conflict, what way of being do they demonstrate that you would like to emulate?
  • When you take one of the conflicts from the first question – one that was especially difficult for you – what was most difficult about that one?
  • For what reason (further to the above question)?
  • If you were conflict competent in that situation, what skills would you have that you didn’t then?
  • How will you feel about yourself when you become conflict competent? How will you feel about the other person with whom you are in conflict, to be able to be conflict competent?
  • What efforts might you make to strengthen your conflict competency?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

#conflictcoaching
#conflictmanagementcoaching
#conflict
#conflictmanagement
#conflictresolution
#questions

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Conflict “Do-Over”

You may have had times that you wish you could have a conflict “do-over”. These are situations about which we ruminate – wishing we had said something differently or hadn’t said anything! These are situations in which we realize we derailed any chance for reconciliation, collaboration or compromise. These are situations we look back on regretting we acted in ways that hurt the other person and ourselves.

While we cannot do conflicts over, we can learn what to do and not to do the next time. This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog invites you to consider what a “do-over” of a specific conflict might be like, to be able to handle a similar situation more effectively if it (or some form of it) appears again.

  • What was the conflict situation?
  • What specific parts do you wish you could do-over?
  • What is it about those specific parts that have lingered on for you in terms of the impact on the other person?
  • How do you describe the impact on them?
  • What parts have lingered on in terms of the impact on you? How do you describe the impact on you?
  • What specifically could you have done differently that would have not resulted in that impact on the other person? On you?
  • What (else) might the other person say you could have done differently?
  • What precluded you from managing the situation in the way you would have preferred?
  • What are 3 of your strongest learnings from this situation?
  • What do you need to be able to apply those learnings the next time you are faced with a similar situation?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

#conflictcoaching
#conflictmanagementcoaching
#conflict
#conflictmanagement
#conflictresolution
#questions

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Stopping Ourselves in Conflict

It sometimes feels as though we cannot stop our reactions when someone provokes us and we are offended by what they said or did. We have a knee-jerk reaction and what comes out of our mouths are words and tones of voice we later regret. We don’t seem to realize we could have chosen another option. And, generally-speaking, we do not acknowledge that we are at choice when we are in conflict and whether we make the situation fractious by our words and actions.

Essentially then, the notion that we lose control and cannot stop our emotions from escalating when we become provoked, offended or hurt, is not necessarily true. Most of us have the ability to control ourselves and regulate our emotional outbursts. How? It’s not easy if our habitual ways of reacting take over! One way is to pay attention to our thoughts and where we are feeling our emotional reactions, and to take a time out to process these things, as to not lose the opportunity to manage both.

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog asks you to consider a situation in which you didn’t stop yourself from saying things that hurt the other person and that you regretted.

  • What was the situation? What did you say that you regret (regretted)?
  • What was the other person’s reaction at the time? To what specifically were they reacting?
  • How did you feel afterwards?
  • What other choices did you have than saying what you regret (regretted)?
  • What got in your way of choosing one of those (considering your answers to the previous question)?
  • What could you have controlled?
  • What are the lingering thoughts you have about the situation?
  • What emotions are still lingering?
  • When faced with other triggering interactions in the future, what course of action might you take to stop yourself from reacting?
  • What help do you want to learn how to stop yourself and make choices that better serve you and the other person?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

#conflictcoaching
#conflictmanagementcoaching
#conflict
#conflictmanagement
#conflictresolution
#questions

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The “Do Nots” of Conflict

There are a lot of things NOT to say or do when in conflict with someone else if we are wanting to resolve or mend things. There are also lots of things NOT to say to family, friends and others when they are in conflict if we are aiming to be supportive! Of course, some of us respond more positively than others, but based on my experience as a conflict management coach and mediator and in my own life, I hear many themes that commonly reflect the “do nots” in both these scenarios.

Considering this, here are a few suggested “do nots” about what not to say to the other person with whom we are in conflict if we want matters to resolve well between us:

  • “Just stay calm.”
  • “You’re just plain wrong.”
  • “You’re an idiot.” (or other name-calling)
  • “If you had a brain in your head…” (or other insults)
  • “I knew I couldn’t trust you.”
  • “That’s the last time I will ever consider you a friend.”

Avoiding, dismissing and gossiping about the person are also “do nots”.

When it comes to responding more positively to others like family, friends and colleagues who are in conflict, some “do nots” – what not to say – are:

  • “Just stay calm.” (notice this is a “do not say” when in conflict ourselves)
  • “The exact same thing happened to me.”
  • “Just forget about it.”
  • “Let it go. It’s not that important.” (Or, phrases such as “You’ll get over it”, or “It’ll pass”)
  • “You did nothing wrong.”
  • “Go out for a walk – it’ll clear your head.”

Giving advice, personalizing someone’s conflict experience, minimizing, dismissing and not listening are also “do nots”.

Based on the content, consider these Conflict Mastery Quest(ions):

  • What sorts of things do you not like the other person to say to you when you are in conflict with them (of the nature of things referred to above)?
  • What is most offensive for you about these things (your answer to the above question)?
  • What have you said to people with whom you are in conflict that doesn’t work well for them?
  • What do you think propels you to say those things (your answers to the above questions)?
  • How do you suppose you can stop yourself from the “do nots” towards people with whom you are in conflict?
  • What do you not like that friends, colleagues or family members say to you when you tell them about your conflicts?
  • For what specific reasons (your answer to the above)?
  • What are the “dos” that you want friends, colleagues or family members to say to you when you share your conflicts – that would feel more supportive?
  • What do you suppose are some best practices to stop ourselves from the “do nots” towards friends, colleagues and family members when they are in conflict?
  • What other “dos” and “do nots” can you think of that you will pay most attention to, going forward?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

#conflictcoaching
#conflictmanagementcoaching
#conflict
#conflictmanagement
#conflictresolution
#questions

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